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The only treasures we can save for Heaven, are the Heavenly Treasures that God’s grace propels us to store up. (V*1). One of the best ways to do this is by sharing the Gospel. When we fulfill the Great Commission we are winning souls for God, by bringing people to saving faith through Jesus Christ. He is the sole mediator between God and man, and He is the only Way, Truth, and Life. No one comes to God the Father except through Him. (V*2 & V*3). He is the provision God knew we needed because of man’s fallen state from the time of Adam and Eve. (V*4). This is a fancy word that basically means He satisfied the fullness of God’s wrath on our behalf. John Stott put it this way:
“According to the Christian revelation, God’s own great love propitiated his own holy wrath through the gift of his own dear Son, who took our place, bore our sin and died our death. Thus God himself gave himself to save us from himself.”
We still live in a world that contains the consequences of that fall, which includes but isn’t limited to: sin, death, and difficulty. Thankfully whenever we fall short, and stumble into any kind of iniquity, we can come clean before God. When we confess our sins He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and cleanse us of all unrighteousness according to 1 John 1:9. (V*5). Then by the lead of the Holy Spirit we are given the grace and provision to repent of our sins. Repentance signifies a change of mind, and this change of mind leads us to also change our behavior. Repentance is a critical component of manifesting our gratitude for God’s provision and salvation. We can more effectively preach the Word, when we ourselves have turned away from our own sinful vices. I know for certain while there are still lingering battles in my life, that the war is won with Jesus Christ. There is no condemnation left for those of us who are in Christ, we are saved and even when we fall He is there to lift us up. (V*6). We need to continually walk in the Holy Spirit so that we can avoid worldly sorrow. Whenever we fall short we can experience the godly sorrow that leads to repentance, but avoid unnecessary guilt, self-pity, or condemnation. (V*7). All of these come from the adversary, the “accuser of the brethren”, and we need to be on guard against them. (V*8).
Though grace abounds this shouldn’t give us any motivation to sin the more, but rather recall how the wages of sin is death. Fortunately, we know that this verse doesn’t end there, as although the wages of sin is death, the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord! What a beautiful promise to know that the joy of my salvation is secure, and that I can rely on God’s strength in my time of need. When we feel tempted, we know based on scripture, these three realities (V*9 & V*10):
God doesn’t tempt us Himself.
God doesn’t require us to endure beyond what we can bear with His help.
God faithfully provides us with ways of escape in order to escape the snare of sin.
Knowing these three realities we should diligently pursue the lead of the Holy Spirit in times of weakness. Prayerfully seeking His help because we know that when we rely on our own strength and self-control, it’s only a matter of time before we give in to sin. Having an understanding of how temptation works based on the passages in James, helps us not to mistakenly attribute the temptation as if it were being sent of God. It also helps us to come to the recognition that the sin begins in the form of us being enticed by our own desires. Whether that might be a thought, or an in person experience, is likely a matter of individual encounters varying in each of the circumstances we battle. At this point we have a clear responsibility to take thoughts captive in obedience to Jesus Christ. (V*11). The earlier in the process of being tempted we rely on God for this provision, the more aggressively we can ensure that we don’t fall victim to the snare at hand. If we are tempted we have not yet necessarily given into sin, but when we yield to those thoughts, and essentially give in to our flesh, we know that it will ultimately bring forth death (physical and/or spiritual). (V*12). The beauty of it is that through Jesus Christ we know we can find healing, and it’s within the scope of His will for us that we might be restored. It may take more time to heal from some sins, and even more time for us to successfully repent from some pesky habitual sins that we may have come across in our lives. Fact remains that God has the power and authority to restore to us everything that was stolen based on our indiscretions. We have no reason to doubt that His perfect justice, judgment, mercy, grace, and love all come together for good. In fact all things work out for good to those who love God, and who are the called according to His purpose. (V*13).
One reason why God may allow such things to take place is for us to know that without God we would be lost, and we need to continually rely on Him to get us through each day. While our strengths and weaknesses in areas of sin may differ, we all know where we are strong by God’s grace. Where we need even more of God’s help, to endure faithfully through the storms of trial, God is there for us. God allows the devil and his demons to tempt us. (V*14). This fact needs to be perceived by a mature Christian to mean that if we stand firm in the face of this temptation, we bring God glory. Bringing God glory, and delighting God, is our ultimate calling here on earth. Everything we do in terms of evangelism, sharing His love, feeding the poor, or clothing the homeless – it all falls under these umbrellas. We want to make less of ourselves and make more of God. God is a big deal, and it’s all about His story not ours. He gives grace to the humble, but He resists the proud. So we always need to come to His word with humble, and ideally not hardened, hearts. Hearts that are receptive to the truth that He shares with us.
If we fear God in reverence, worship, respect, awe, and trembling we know that this assists us in working out our salvation before God. If even the demons and the devil have the knowledge that God exists, then what distinguishes you and I as believers? (V*15). It’s that we fear God, and that we desire to align ourselves with His will for us. It’s that we have a willingness to submit to His sovereignty, obey His commands, and adapt ourselves to His plan for us. We are willing to be corrected, and we try not to spurn His correction, because we know it is in our best interest. It’s a noteworthy distinction because we don’t want to operate under the assumption that only mental knowledge of God and His Word is what we need for salvation. We all need a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, and we need to confess that He is the Son of God. We need to know in our hearts that God raised Him from the dead three days later, because this is a clear acceptance of His atoning sacrifice for our sins. We also know of course that He ascended into Heaven. (V*16).
When the Bible tells us to: “work out our salvation in fear and trembling”, this doesn’t mean we earn our salvation. (V*17). We cannot add or detract to our salvation, it’s a free gift given only by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone so that none of us can boast. (V*18). We’ve been chosen among God’s elect. Since we’ve been chosen, we are motivated to obey God. This is what we do when we pursue obedience in the process of sanctification. We become more Christ-like based on the lead of the Holy Spirit in us, and God molding us into the people He desires us to become. We delight in the wisdom found in His Word, and through the experiences He blesses us with, we know that He has a perfect track record of never letting us down. (See R*1 below the article for a more elaborate article regarding Philippians 2:12).
There’s no reason to doubt His future provision, when He himself spared not even His only Son on our behalf. Based on this understanding of God, we have a desire to showcase the fruits of the Spirit as He leads us daily. Our expressions of joy, gentleness, kindness, self-control, patience, faithfulness, goodness, and love help us to convey to other believers and non-believers that there’s something uniquely active in our lives. (V*19). That is that the Holy Spirit dwells inside our bodies, which are temples of the Holy Spirit, and it’s He who fuels us to do what is just. (V*20). Not by our own strength, for we are incapable of doing such good in and of ourselves. We cling on to Him to sustain us, because even when people don’t return our good intentions with good, we are still strengthened to love even our enemies. We are also reminded that Jesus Christ paid the price for our sins, therefore God owns us and our bodies. We don’t own ourselves, we were bought with a price, as the verse explicitly states. This we need to keep in mind before we give in to gratifying the lust of the eyes, lust of the flesh, and/or the pride of life. We are accountable to the Master who owns us, the King of Kings has authority over us. This should encourage us to obey Him, and submit to Him, even when internally and externally we feel a burning desire to sin. I have compromised countless times like this in the past, but I also hold on fully to the forgiveness and redemption found in Jesus Christ. We have already won the war, we only need not forget that every battle is still worth fighting for His glory by His grace. Not for our own elevation, but for His honor, glory, and acknowledgment. Recall that God owes us nothing, and we owe Him infinitely more than we can ever give Him back. Yet this reality shouldn’t hold us back from giving all we can to Him, and be good stewards of the lives He has entrusted us.
When we build a legacy based on these scriptural principles, and all the divine revelations He has shared with us through His Word, we can effectively redeem the time here on earth. Our evangelism, fruits of the Spirit, and everything we do that is inspired of God – we know bears far beyond the immediate value in front of our faces. We know that these are eternal treasures being stored, and that our real treasure is in Heaven where it lasts forever. Anything we gain in terms of wealth, fame, or success in the eyes of the world is only an asset to the extent that we can use it for God. Otherwise these things can even become hindrances, and open the door to greater temptations on earth. I am not immune to temptation, so I rely on the Holy Spirit to help me abide in God. I am far from perfect, but I am being sanctified. I have already been justified in Jesus Christ, and I know that ultimately in Heaven I will have been glorified in His sight. These assurances allow me to fearlessly leave a legacy of God’s purposes back on earth, knowing that giving up some seemingly appetizing pleasures of the world, is a tiny sacrifice in comparison to the glory which will be revealed in us! That’s why we ought to all pray that God doesn’t give us beyond what we can be good stewards of, and have the capacity to manage with His Kingdom and His will at the forefront of our priorities.
I pray that He would continually re-align our priorities when the world, and the distractions in it, carry too much weight in our eyes. That He would shift our eyes back to the author and finisher of our Faith Jesus Christ. (V*21). He alone is worthy of worship, praise, all that we could ever give, and infinitely more. I pray that He would motivate you to share the truth of the Gospel boldly, and unashamedly, so that we would accomplish our God-given assignments. I pray that He would reveal to you your purpose, and how He desires for you to serve Him, if He hasn’t already. I also ask that you would continually seek His will in all areas of life. That all the small, big, and all of the areas in between all rest under His will for you.
In Jesus Christ name we pray, amen!
V*1- “9 Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; 20 but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” Matthew 6:19-21 (NKJV).
V*2- “5 For there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus,6 who gave Himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time,”
1 Timothy 2:5-6 (NKJV).
V*3- “6 Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.” John 14:6 (NKJV).
V*4- “2 My little children, these things I write to you, so that you may not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. 2 And He Himself is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the whole world.” 1 John 2:2 (NKJV).
V*5- “9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” 1 John 1:9 (NKJV).
V*6- “8 There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus,[a] who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit.”
Romans 8:1 (NKJV).
V*7- “10 For godly sorrow produces repentance leading to salvation, not to be regretted; but the sorrow of the world produces death.” 2 Corinthians 7:10 (NKJV).
V*8- “10 Then I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, “Now salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of His Christ have come, for the accuser of our brethren, who accused them before our God day and night, has been cast down.” Revelations 12:10 (NKJV).
V*9- “13 Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am tempted by God”; for God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He Himself tempt anyone. 14 But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed. 15 Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death.” James 1:13-15 (NKJV).
V*10- “13 No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it.” 1 Corinthians 10:13 (NKJV).
V*11- “5 casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ,” 2 Corinthians 10:5 (NKJV).
V*12- “23 For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 6:23 (NKJV).
V*13- “28 And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.” Romans 8:28 (NKJV).
V*14- “12 And the Lord said to Satan, “Behold, all that he has is in your power; only do not lay a hand on his person.”
So Satan went out from the presence of the Lord.” Job 1:12 (NKJV).
V*15- “19 You believe that there is one God. You do well. Even the demons believe—and tremble!” James 2:19 (NKJV).
V*16- “9 Now when He had spoken these things, while they watched, He was taken up, and a cloud received Him out of their sight. 10 And while they looked steadfastly toward heaven as He went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel, 11 who also said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand gazing up into heaven? This same Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will so come in like manner as you saw Him go into heaven.” Acts 1:9-12 (NKJV).
V*17- “12 Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; 13 for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure.” Philippians 2:12-13 (NKJV).
V*18- “8 For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, 9 not of works, lest anyone should boast.” Ephesians 2:8-9 (NKJV).
V*19- “22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law.” Galatians 5:22-23 (NKJV).
V*20- “19 Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? 20 For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body[a] and in your spirit, which are God’s.” 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 (NKJV).
V*21- “2 looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” Hebrews 12:2 (NKJV).